A must-win situation for both teams

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IN RIGHT EARNEST: Australian captain Ricky Ponting and his men are focused on the match against England on Saturday. PHOTO: R.V. Moorthy
IN RIGHT EARNEST: Australian captain Ricky Ponting and his men are focused on the match against England on Saturday. PHOTO: R.V. Moorthy

Vijay Lokapally

JAIPUR: England and Australia are both fighting for survival, and that adds to the intensity of the Champions Trophy match here on Saturday.

England is not known to fancy its chances in limited-overs cricket. Major titles have eluded England but Australia, in comparison, has always backed itself to come back from the brink and emerge the champion combination in all conditions.

It is their age-old rivalry that adds colour to the encounter. The `Ashes' remains the focus for England, not at its best in this competition.

Australia, a mighty force in both forms of the game, is used to such tight situations. If it has to win to survive, it certainly will on most occasions.

Areas of concern

Could Saturday be different? England, on recent form, does not promise a revolution on the cricket field.

There is no doubt that Andrew Flintoff and his men would be fired up against Australia but there are areas that cause concern.

The sluggish pace of its cricket suggests a pattern that does not suit England when pitted against strong teams.

The pasting it received at the hands of Sri Lanka this summer only exposed the chinks in the English camp even though there is optimism triggered by the return of Flintoff. But then Australia rarely bows to one man in the opposition.

It is imperative that Flintoff leads by example. He has the stuff to take on Australia but it should be remembered that his all-round abilities have been curtailed and his role shall be restricted to batting only.

Meanwhile, Australia captain Ponting said his team was more focused on the clash than the `Ashes'.

"Head to head, both the teams are pumped up, anything can happen," said Ponting.

Australia had learnt lessons from the loss to the West Indies. "When we lose a game and try to analyse it, we break it down and try to make it as simple as you can. I think we made crucial mistakes at bad times," Ponting said.

The Australia skipper joked about the pollution likely to trouble the teams on the day of the match.

"I said to the boys to buy themselves gas masks for fielding. We are worried about getting our preparations right.

"We might need some glasses or something like that to keep our eyes from smoke. I understand that there are going to be a lot of crackers; a bit of haze and smoke around there. Hopefully we can see the ball out there," Ponting said.

Big occasion

England skipper Andrew Flintoff echoed Ponting's views. "I'm in the same boat as Ricky to be honest. I've heard it is a festival of lights and that's all I know."

Flintoff agreed it would be a tough game. "I don't know where the advantage lies. It's going to be a tough game. Playing against Australia is a proud moment and it's a big occasion," he said.

The teams (from):Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Shane Watson, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Brad Hogg, Nathan Bracken, Simon Katich, Mitchell Johnson and Darren Cullen.

England: Andrew Flintoff (captain), Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Chris Read, Paul Collingwood, James Dalrymple, Steve Harmison, Edmund Joyce, Jon Lewis, Sajid Mahmood, James Anderson, Rikki Clarke and Michael Yardy.

Umpires: Steve Bucknor and Billy Bowden. Third umpire: Daryl Harper. Fourth umpire: Simon Taufel. Match Referee: Jeff Crowe.

Hours of play: 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.; 6.45 p.m. onwards.

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